Regina pilot project has volunteers 'adopt a sidewalk' to help clear snow for Paratransit users

Getting around in winter can be a hard slog for many — particularly those with mobility issues.

One Regina group is trying to make it easier by tackling one sidewalk at a time.

The Eden Care Communities Foundation has started a program called Adopt a Sidewalk.

Paratransit customers who don't have anyone to shovel their walk can ask to have their sidewalk "adopted," said Bill Pratt, a spokesperson for the snow clearing project with Eden Care.

"If they don't have any means or anybody to shovel their sidewalks we will adopt their sidewalk for the winter to keep it clear," Pratt said.

That means volunteers will come shovel walks to make sure people with mobility issues can still access the bus, making it easier for them to get to medical or other important appointments. 

To qualify for the free service, you need to be a customer of Paratransit — Regina Transit's accessible transportation service — and have no other means to get your sidewalk clear. 

"It's not an onerous process," Pratt said. "Basically, you tell us you need help and we'll get it done." 

He estimates about 100 people in the city could be eligible for the service.

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Trying to manoeuvre a wheelchair down a snow-covered sidewalk can be almost impossible, said Pratt.

"It's very limiting and it takes you away from getting to that important appointment that you need to get to," he said.

"If we didn't clear their walk they'd probably have to miss some pretty important appointments." He adds the service isn't meant to clear entire driveways, but will clear a path from a front door to wherever the user accesses Paratransit.

While the Eden Care foundation has received some funding from the city, the pilot project is based on people and groups volunteering their time.

"Ideally what we'd like is for a person to say, 'I will adopt that sidewalk for the rest of the winter,'" Pratt said.

The foundation is also encouraging businesses, service clubs, faith groups and schools to adopt a sidewalk.

"That way you can spread the shovelling among a group of people," he said. "Maybe you only have to do it once or twice and then somebody is always available to do it."

Pratt said if all goes well this year, Eden Care might look at expanding the service to Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.

For now, the foundation is still looking for volunteers in Regina.

"We would happily take more organizations or businesses groups. The more we have, the merrier."

To volunteer or ask for the service you can call 306-206-0264 or send an email to bill.pratt@edencare.ca.